the space between
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” - Viktor Frankl
You know that moment? When you’re about to lose your sh*t? OR, When you’re about to walk (or run) out? OR When you’re about to shut down (or freeze them out)? OR When you’re about to pretend like everything’s fine because you’re either over it, or know your response will cause drama or worse?
These are all stress responses.
And. Did you know? The person or situation that activates you, is TEACHING YOU. Pay attention. Heed the lesson.
I just found myself in one of these situations recently with someone I care for greatly. Not saying that person didn’t bring their own “stuff” to the situation, but because I hadn’t been taking care of myself the way I need, I became dysregulated easier than usual. Sigh. Try again.
When we’re in a regulated state, these “spaces” are safely and easily navigated because we’re aware, awake, conscious. We are calm, neutral, and able to mindfully respond.
When we’re dysregulated, these “spaces” are dangerous and poorly navigated because we’re operating from old, conditioned patterns based on our previous (often undesirable, stressful, even traumatic) experiences and biases. We are either fighting, fleeing, or frozen/immobilized, and unconsciously reacting. It’s these “spaces” that can get us into trouble.
The length of this “space” is correlated with our level of awareness which is dependent upon our current physiological state. The more regulated we are, the more aware we are. The more aware we are, the more conscious we are of this “space” – and the more choice we have in how we respond versus react.
How do we lengthen the “space?” More to come, the basics are:
- Prevention: Sleep, diet, mindfulness, movement, connection, play, and purpose
- Pause: stop, breathe, notice
- Respond: this may mean you ask for a longer pause – without avoiding or dismissing and making sure you return to it when you’re regulated - so you RESPOND (vs. react)
- Reflect: Ask “why is this is in my story?” Has it shown up before? Is this reaction a pattern (either with people, a particular person, a particular situation, etc.).
What are your “activators?” What sends you into a fight, flight, or freeze response? Let us know here or message us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for more strategies, both FREE in the Well and in upcoming workshops and courses.